Apr 18, 2014

Transporting your goods may be the most important thing to consider when running an efficient supply chain, one that leads to happy and loyal customers.  It involves getting raw products into your door, and shipping out finished products to your distributors and/or customers.

Here are 10 key considerations when looking for a shipping partner:

  1. Trust: It may seem obvious, but trust is the foundation to a good relationship. Trust your gut – is this a company or team you want to do business with, do you enjoy problem solving with this team and trust their decision-making abilities? Follow your intuition. If you find a red flag, research it.
  2. Expectations: How are expectations established with your shipping partner?  Do they use project charters or complete assessments to ensure SOWs are understood, including roles and responsibilities.  Establish critical success factors to ensure the program meets your needs.
  3. Visit their facility Is the facility clean and orderly?  What messaging do you see on the walls?  How are the product & racking labeled in the warehouse?  Are they organized?  What types of techology do they use?  These are just a few of the important elements of a good walk-thru checklist.
  4. Cost: The cost to move your products should not be evaluated on the transportation costs alone associated to each shipment.  It’s about VALUE:  are you gaining or losing customers based on quality service, damage-free shipments?  The costs associated with running a solid transportation program include the value of working with knowledgeable personnel to prevent expensive errors & make smart, quick decisions when plans change.
  5. Scalability:  Smaller shipping partners may not scale as quickly as you need them to when your company grows, especially if your company experiences spikes or seasonal growth.  On the reverse of this spectrum, a larger shipping partner may not view your business as important or they may not provide customized care to fit your needs. Find a partner who can provide this balance.
  6. Account management: Not only will you be working with a business development representative, but also with the account management personnel.  How well do these individuals work together with your team, and with one another? Do they understand what it takes to work with your business and insure all transportation is handled properly?
  7. Breadth of services:  Identify all types of services you are looking for: truckload, partial-load, LTL, international, refrigerated transportation, heavy-haul, flatbed, dry van service, inside delivery, retail deliveries, trade show logistics….different transportation carriers will be better in one area or another.  Does your shipping partner excel in your particular type of transportation, or do they offer a variety of expertise?
  8. Carrier route optimization:  Most carriers specialize in geographic regions, but will accept freight outside of that area and charge accordingly to cover their costs to handle outlying freight territories.  A trusted shipping partner knows carrier specialties and proper carrier routing, saving you time, hassle and expensive freight bills.
  9. Carrier compliance:  Using a shipping partner who manages carrier partnerships poorly, including inadequate risk screenings, can affect how your product is moved, loss & damage and on-time delivery performance.  Ask them about their carrier qualification criteria: do they review CSA scores, do they require a copy of their operating authority, what about insurance minimums & do they have signed contracts in placed?
  10. Tools: How do they track shipments, how do they accept order tenders, how do they invoice, how do they handle claims, what are their reporting capabilities, can they warehouse your goods, do they have a fulfillment sector?

Finding the right fit in a shipping partner results in more time for you to focus on your business and core competency. Considering these key issues when selecting a transportation partner will allow you as a business executive or supply chain manager to better serve your customers.

Interested in learning more?  Let’s talk solutions.